Billy's VC, Witnessed or not???

The following snippet came from the NEW Forum on The Aerodrome concerning the Victoria Cross, the highest award for Valour given by the British Empire, and now the Commonwealth. The message thread started out asking whether or not there were any double award winners during WWI. Eventually it got to the point where I felt comfortable about bringing up the subject of Billy Bishop and his VC award. After this, you will see six messages that are my original question, and 5 responses related to it.

Re: Victoria Cross
Reply #12 on: 22 January 2002, 4:05pm
Ok, here comes the big one. I know everyone likes to keep on saying how Bishop had no
witnesses for HIS VC. My question is this...How do we know for certain that NO ONE else put
in a report to support his claim??

After all, they took over two months before the award was announced. I'm sure they weren't
just twiddling their thumbs while trying to decide whether or not to award the VC to Bishop.

Isn't it conceivable that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE, SOMEHOW, put in a report that supported
Bishop's claim??

Granted, it's difficult to prove either way now, since all the paper work is now gone, either
destroyed during WWII, or cleaned out during one of their periodic paper reduction clearings.

But it IS something to think about, don't you thinkhuh.gif


Al Lowe

Re: Victoria Cross
Reply #13 on: 22 January 2002, 9:20pm
(quoted part of above message deleted)


I guess if they had evidence that collaborated Billy's CITAR, then I believe the award would
NOT have taken 2 months to approve.

What I believe is not important, the fact is Billy was awarded a VC. People argue the veracity
of his CITAR but until some long lost document comes to the fore then I think we should let the
poor bloke rest in peace, otherwise we are dealing with pure speculation.

As for your last question. Anything is possible, except maybe for Vin and Amy seeing eye to


Re: Victoria Cross
Reply #14 on: 23 January 2002, 1:03am
Al, let it rest in peace. R.
Re: Victoria Cross
Reply #15 on:
23 January 2002, 2:29am
Under normal circumstances I would let it rest, but then there's all the denials by those who
would prefer to prove Billy Wrong.

I don't mind their theories, as long as they don't mind my theories. Problem is, most of them

But, I'll not bring it up again, until someone else does. wink.gif


Al Lowe

Re: Victoria Cross
Reply #16 on:
24 January 2002, 9:29pm
  Crooks' generally excellent 1970s study, "Evolution of the VC," makes frequent mention of
the "weeding" of VC records from prior to WW I onward. No date or explanation is given, but it
appears to have occurred after WW II since there's almost nothing in the records for those
eras. Very little on aviation (see my upcoming post on Hawker.)
  WHOMEVER weeded the VC files richly deserves the historic ritual of hanging, drawing, and
quartering. Even if the SOB is was a crime against history. Anyway, with those files
went any reasonable hope of learning how Bishop's controversial VC was permitted. I can
say, however, that in the 20th century the VC has been far more equitably administered than
the Medal of Honor.

(This was posted by Barrett Tillman)

Re: Victoria Cross
Reply #17 on:
24 January 2002, 10:51pm
Barrett, thank you!! I now feel vindicated. wink.gif


Al Lowe

As you can see from the above exchange, it was not uncommon for VC records to be "expunged" from time to time. Supposedly as a space saving matter, and I presume as a paper recycling endeavour as well. I have been told by various sources that little if anything remains of Billy Bishop's original VC citation records. No one knows why other than the above explanation.

I submit that perhaps there were witnesses who were questioned, whether captured enemy fliers as suggested by some of Bishop's contemporaries, or spies or what have you. But I think to say, out of hand that there were no witnesses, is as much speculation as it is to say there were. There is at least anecdotal evidence that there were one or more witnesses.

More than one witness is mentioned in Dan McCaffrey's book, "Billy Bishop: Canadian Hero," as well as the more recent book by Lieut.-Col. David Bashow, "Knights Of The Air." If you dismiss the witnesses FOR Bishop, then you have to give the same treatment to those "witnesses" against Bishop, who fit the same category. In other words, contemporaries of Bishop, such as Willy Fry, Taffy Jones, and Archibald James. If, on the other hand, you prefer to lend credence to those who present "evidence" against Bishop. Then you should lend the same amount of credence to those who present evidence in Bishop's favor. In my own humble opinion, that is. smile.gif - 249 Bytes

As always, you, the reader are free to make up your own mind. I only hope you do so fairly, and with an open mind.

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